Technique


Toyman


click
here to read the most recent additions to the arsenal.

The DVOA live set up is essentially the same as the studio format, with different wiring, the bulk of which is housed in a custom shock mounted flight-case.The hub is a TASCAM 414 porta studio, which recently replaced a 10 year old Tascam porta-one. All of the DVOA albums, with the exception of How Hollow Heart (which was recorded live to DAT) were recorded to a porta studio. No bouncing was used. Often, less than the available 4 tracks were used. Until I got the 414, no effects were added post-recording.The Glae Bastards track is the only DVOA work to be recorded in a studio. The other components of the flight case are: Boss SE50 (my original processor) Alesis Quadraverb II, Alesis 3630 Compressor with gate, Mackie 1402 mixer, Ibanez VL10 volume pedal. I recently got a Tascam DA20 DAT machine for mix down. Prior to this I used Jean-Yves' portable Casio DAT or rented a DA20 or 30. If I need to, I use The Miller Block Studio in Vancouver.

Microphones are vital to my work. All of the first three DVOA albums were recorded with extremely cheap and nasty mikes. Fine for studio work but I can't use them live due to feedback problems, so I've tended to use Shure 58's for vocal work and an endless stream of contact mikes that I break with alarming frequency. I went through 5 alone during last summers tour. I recently discovered a cunning contact mike stuffed and sealed inside a bottle cap which is ingenious and very responsive. As ever, I have to be conscious of hiss from fx and microphones. Hiss is the bane of the porta-studio users life, but I've got it cornered and whimpering right now.


Toys R' Us

Toys :

I have access to some conventional toys,an electric guitar, acoustic guitar and a Roland S-10 keyboard, a trumpet, banjolele (a hybrid banjo-ukelele), strum stick, rain stick, balalaika, kalaimbas (thumbpiano), metronome, harmonica, flageolet, panpipes, recorder, whistles etc. However,my prized collection are toys bought during my travels...

Toys R Us has to be the ultimate DVOA musical store. My favourite vocal processor right now is a "Jammin' Unit", a small microphone-amplification device with a conical megaphone. Beautiful early Fall-like distortion. "Michael Said To Me," from the new Spasm cd,"Smear," is a good example of the Jammin' Unit in action. It also has pitch and volume controls. Comes with a number of sounds. I have two models: one has samples that sound like they were lifted from a Hanna Barbera cartoon, the other haship-hop/techno sounds. I use three dictaphones for "samples." The last track on How Hollow Heart features many random voices culled from my collection of dicta-tapes.

You'll hear a womans voice on every one of my recordings (somewhere,often buried deeply). It's Elaine. About 5 years ago I plonked a dictaphone in front of her and asked her to sing some of her Catholic school songs. I never consciously pick a tape to use. I haven't catalogued them. Many of them date back to my time in
Zoviet*France. I walked from the Central Station in Newcastle once up to Ben's house. I put the dictaphone in my
pocket and recorded my walk. I think that tape has been used in just about every show I've done. It's still one of my favourites. I always use radios. New Words Machine uses radios randomly switched on and off. The first two tracks are heavilly composed of radio and dictaphone samples. I always use them live. I've done several shows here in Vancouver and have used live broadcasts from NW98's Canucks hockey games. I like their unpredictability. Just like the hockey team. I recall seeing AMM live at the Western Front here three years ago: In the middle of the performance Keith Rowe tuned into one of the sadly profuse rock radio stations. The audience burst into laughter. Quite a memorable experience.

Another favourite toy is a sound collection device given to me by two friends from Bochum in Germany. It's loud and has over 30 stored sounds from hammers, drills and helicopters to nursery rhymes. Beautiful. I have lots of wind up toys (heavilly featured on New Words Machine). Chinatown in Vancouver is a great resource for these. Radio Shack is another happy hunting ground. My beloved Godzilla came from there, as well as Mister Skateboarder, who has a lovely motor in his arse, perfect for prepared guitar. A while ago I stole Elaine's ladyshave. She had to buy another. I use it all the time for laying over the strings on my guitar or strum stick, again,a marvelous source of resonance for prepared guitar work. Hats off to Keith Rowe from AMM for creating this marvelous instrument called the prepared guitar.


Flute


The guys from Individual Totem gave me a Fisher Price (quality product) telephone toy that has four telephone sounds. I use chopsticks for playing percussion devices and have a number of percussion mallets for the same reason. I used to be a drummer but gave away my drums. I now use nothing more than household objects. A copper log basket is a favourite source. I often use an old hollowed out acoustic guitar with a contact mike, tapping the body, with a meaty delay-gate added.

Hafted Maul used a lot of sounds from my stringed instruments. I have some beautiful Mexican clay flutes that I keep safely stored. I have other fragile instruments that I simply can't bring on tour with me. Ray Man in Covent Garden, London is an exceptional store for third world instruments. I've spent many a happy hour there. Finally, I borrow pieces of equipment from friends or simply use whatever is available. As an avid toy user (abuser) I am fortunate enough to have been given many gifts from friends. They are all assembled here at my loft: some day I must take some photographs of them. Every toy tells a story.

TECHNIQUES

(Most of my techniques relate to fx that I have programmed on my SE50 and QV11)


(doing) (being) (melding)